Histories: Trempealeau County Historical Accounts:
"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":
-As transcribed from pages 274 - 276
The Beef or Buffalo River in the days of the French explorers took the name that Hennepin in 1680 applied to the Chippewa River. "Beef" is a corruption of "Beeuf," the designation applied by the early French explorers to the American buffalo. The R. de Beeufs appears on the earliest maps, though in some of them it is evident that the Chippewa River is meant.
The Black River was called R. Noire, by Hennepin in 1680, and has since borne the English translation of that word. Hennepin says that the Sioux called the river, Cha-be-de-ba or Cha-ba-on-de-ba. The modern Sioux, however, called it Wat-pah-zappa or Minne-sap-pah, meaning Black Water or Black River.
Beaver Creek. Tradition says that two Frenchmen (probably the same Joseph Rocque and companion from whom French Creek was named) wintered on Beaver Creek above Galesville in the days of the trappers, and there caught a large number of beavers. Willard B. Bunnell and James Reed also caught many beavers there and gave the creek its name.
Cedar Creek was named by Willard B. Bunnell and James Reed. In the early days it was the haunt of many deer. The creek was named because of the abundance of dry red cedar used by Mr. Bunnell and Mr. Reed in "fire hunting."
Elk Creek was named in 1842 by Willard B. Bunnell and William Smothers while on a hunting expedition. The valley of Elk Creek is usually called Pleasant Valley.
French Creek, according to Winnebago tradition, was so called from the fact that Joseph Rocque, the father of Augustine Rocque, once maintained his wintering ground in that vicinity while hunting and trapping in the Beaver Creek Valley.
Hardie's Creek was named from James Hardie, an early settler and sturdy Scotchman.
Pigeon Creek was named by Willard B. Bunnell and William Smothers while on a hunting trip. Bunnell then lived at Reed's Town (Trempealeau) and Smothers at Holmes' Landing (Fountain City). Of the great flocks of pigeons that frequented this vicinity in the early days L. H. Bunnell says: "I was returning in a canoe from a trip up the river (in 1842) and as I came in sight of the oak timber then growing on the Wisconsin side below the site of the lower bridge, I saw clouds of pigeons settling to roost, when crash, would fall an oak limb, and then a noise would follow like the letting off of steam. It did not occur to me at first, what it was that made the latter noise, but as I approached nearer, and saw limb after limb fall, some of them very large size, and then heard the increased noise, I saw, and heard, that it was numberless pigeons breaking down the limbs and chattering in glee a their having overloaded and broken them down. Some of the young Sioux were watching the 'roost,' to see if any had commenced laying, for some were already building nests, and when I told James Reed of the Indians being there and not a shot fired at the pigeons, he told me that the Indians never disturbed pigeons or ducks by shooting at them when nesting, and that the life of a man doing so would not be safe among the Sioux, as the whole tribe would feast upon the squabs as soon as big enough. The pigeon roost extended for 25 miles below La Crosse, as reported to us by up-coming steamboats, and where there was heavy timber, the same scenes were repeated that I had witnessed - the whole length of the roost being about 45 miles. Pigeons are easily disturbed and driven away when they commence nesting, but when they begin to set, they are not so easily scared."
Pine Creek was named after the towering scattered pines which grew in abundance in that vicinity , some of which stand today, one being utilized by a farmer as a tower for his windmill, a little south of the Pine Creek church, the central building in Pine Creek village.
The Big and Little Tamarack creeks were named from the abundance of tamarack timber grown along their banks and in the bottom lands and adjoining. Al and Abe Holcomb, two early settlers, built a sawmill on the prairie near their homes to manufacture this timber into lumber for building and fence purposes. The old mill was doing business in 1870 and remained many years later to serve a very useful purpose, when its site and building were put to use as a grist mill by Squire A. Pickett, later purchased by John Bonum and Stephen Richmond, and Bonum's interest conveyed to Blackhawk Johnson, who in 1878 purchased the whole property and continued the milling business a number of years. The mill and power are in recent years nearly unknown.
Trempealeau River received its name from Trempealeau Mountain and Bay. It was called by the Winnebagoes Ne-chann-ne-shan-ah-ga, or over-flowing stream, and by the Sioux Wat-pah-dah, the moving stream.
Trout Creek or Trout River was named by Willard B. Bunnell. As the Sioux seldom fished, but confined their activities in this line to spearing large fish with a spear, the spring creeks were filled with trout of good size. In the early '40s Mr. Bunnell once caught six dozen trout in Trout Creek in a few hours. The larger trout were caught in the main stream, but they did most of their spawning in Little Trout Creek.
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